Summary: All of the religions of the world have works at their core; all except Christianity. Here is a great story of Jesus confronting the self-righteous works righteousness of His day, and ours!
Passage: Matthew 15:1-20
Intro: Christianity is unique among the religions of the world.
1. and we are going to see why it is in this passage.
2. it is a conversation of intense conflict, so much so that it made Jesus’ disciples nervous.
3. in an atmosphere of love and grace, Jesus presents here the uncompromising truth.
4. because what is at stake is reconciliation to God, and because of God’s righteous character, the process is clear.
5. what we have in this passage is clear definition of what God’s plan is, and is not.
I. The Foundational Issue
1. this group from Jerusalem a very high powered delegation.
2. didn’t make the trip to Galilee lightly, because it was contaminated
3. when they came, very instructive where they found fault. V2
4. “your disciples”=master responsible
5. no actual lawbreaking, just “the tradition of the elders”=man’s rules
6. Jesus’ response very pointed, powerful example.
7. “v3, “break the command of God”
8. v4…”God said”..principle is to honor and respect parents.
9. yet the Jewish leaders had contrived a loophole to get around this principle, especially where $ was concerned.
10. child could say, “sorry, what I could give to you in your time of need has been dedicated to God” Moral high ground.
11. then after their death, there were lawful ways for you to break that vow and reclaim your money.
Il) we could call this an “obligation- sheltered reversible annuity.”
12. so man makes a rule that sanctifies the breaking of a law of God.
13. man is great at making rules to circumvent the righteous character of God.
14. but in doing so, v6, we nullify God’s eternal and spiritual principles in favor of our physical and temporary rules.
14. so the issue is clear; man’s rules or God’s revealed plan.
15. Why can’t we have both?
II. Substituting Appearance for Reality
1. let’s face it, we are impressed with the zeal and righteousness of the Pharisees.
2. but Jesus was not! He called the hypocrites! V7
3. defines a hypocrite in v8 as a person who says one thing and does another.
4. there is an appearance of holiness, and lots of religious sounding words.
5. talk is cheap! And so is the so-called righteousness of men.
6. it avoids the real issue of sin- darkened hearts, and deals with the problem on the surface only.
Il) would you be content if you had severe chest pains and your doctor said “take two aspirin and call me in the morning?”
7. external rules and regulations are band-aids, powerless to deal with the real problem.
8. to do so is to cut ourselves off from God’s righteous and powerful plan because we find a certain short-term satisfaction in the apparent holiness we achieve on our own.
-plan is restored relationship; God revealed in OT as Father, provider, rescuer, husband, gave law to allow him to be with His people
9. this short-cut to nowhere is very popular, and the disciples were stunned. V12
10. this demonstrates how radical this idea is and always will be.
11. false religions give mankind way too much credit, and bring God down to our level of righteousness.
12. bypass the relational desire of God
III. Man’s Plans are Hopeless
1. v13 is an amazing statement.
2. when it is not based in the revelation of God as initiator of restoration, every religion is false.
-if man the initiator, religion is false, because man is sinful
3. See the same sentiment elsewhere in Scripture.
4. no matter how good it looks, no matter how successful it appears, or how holy it makes you feel.
5. if it is not based on the revelation of God in His Word and His Son, don’t buy it!
6. get off the bus they are driving! They can’t see! V14
7. we have to examine what is presented as truth, to see if it is Scripture!
8. and that means more than having some verses mis-interpreted and out of context to build an entire doctrinal system.
PP Acts 17:11…examined!
9. make sure it is from God. And if you are not sure, ask someone you trust!
IV. Avoid the Physical and Temporary, Embrace the Spiritual and Eternal
1. been preaching here 23 years, feel like I beat this drum a lot! (so do you)
2. but it keeps popping up, OT and NT
3. it is a principle we need to apply
4. Jesus uses food and drink as an example on vv16-20. Huge for the Jews!
5. very frank in v17,eat food and it ends up (literally) “in the latrine”
6. it is temporary and physical.
Il) aware of certain nutrition programs that push Kosher for Christians. OK as long as aren’t tied to righteousness.